You know that feeling…the cold chill runs down your spine when you turn the key in your ignition and you hear that sickly sputtering sound….or worse…no sound at all! Or when you’re driving down the highway and people have to stay back 100 yards because your car is spewing acrid black smoke. Read on to find out how to save money on car repairs, and make getting back on the road, less painful to your wallet.
As someone who doesn’t make a whole lot of money (I currently don’t make a profit by running this website, it actually costs me money to run!) I know how to stretch a dollar bill so far that you can actually hear George Washington squeak. One of the ways I have learned to do that is to cut down on costly car maintenance. While I am by no means a car-care professional, I have accumulated a few tips in my day for saving money when caring for and maintaining your vehicle.
1: Do the scheduled maintenance.
This may seem counter-intuitive. One might logically think “well I can save money by just skipping that oil change”….while that might be true in the short term, it can cause more costly damage in the long run. What’s the cost of an oil change compared to replacing a seized engine? (If you weren’t aware, when you run your car, the oil lubricates the engine parts. Eventually the existing oil breaks down and when its totally lost its lubrication properties, your engine “seizes” and is no longer functional. The engine is the most expensive thing in your car to replace. It’s bad news!) That being said-make sure you periodically check your oil levels according to your owners manual. Don’t put it off! Blowing off the cheap stuff can mean costly fixes down the road.
2: Consider doing the easy stuff yourself.
If you have the means (and the tools, and preferably a knowledgeable spotter) Consider doing minor things like oil changes, tire rotation and air filters at home. Those are all relatively inexpensive to have done, but over time those costs add up. You can find all sorts of how-to manuals online, and you can save a lot of money this way. Just make SURE you put all the bolts/clips/hoses back on properly or you risk doing more damage. I insist you do this with someone “spotting” you who knows how. A friend, relative or someone who knows what they are doing to make sure you can learn without causing more problems. Once you know how, it’s really easy, its just a matter of getting over the fear of learning!
3: Grab a hose and a bucket!
Don’t pay $10 or more for a car wash! At the risk of sounding like a total cliche, its literally pouring money down the drain. Unless you don’t have access to a water spigot (like if you live in an apartment for instance) you can save a lot of money by washing your car at home. This is especially true if you wash your car weekly or bi-weekly. It’s also a good workout, and a reason to get a tan! If you absolutely cannot wash your car at home, look for the self-service wash stalls, or look for gas stations that offer a deal for a discounted car wash when you purchase gasoline from them.
What tips do you have for saving money on car care?